Tuesday, July 25, 2006

26/7 - Never forget

Tuesday, 26th July 2005.

Mumbai lost 546 people to 944mm of rains and flood-related disasters. That number includes 75 killed in landslides and another 179 that drowned in floods. (that toll is as per BMC’s own affidavit).

Considering that we’ve barely come out of the 7/11 train bomb blasts, it’s a tall order to remember those who died a year back on this day. And 546 is a huge number.

One year down the line, and barely anything’s changed in the city. We’ve already had grim reminders in this monsoon that the city remains vulnerable.

Madhav Chitale what ?

The Maharashtra Government had constituted the Madhav Chitale Committee to investigate 26/7. The report was approved on May 24th, 2006 and the Government continues to "take action" on the report's recommendation, leave alone taking to task those responsible for the collapse in the city's infrastructure.

There was also a Concerned Citizens Commission, headed by Justice P. B. Sawant, formed in Sept-05 which was supposed to have submitted its report within three months. While I’ve not read much about this Commission, I’d be glad if someone can forward me a copy of this report.

Finally..

Somehow, I can’t get myself to call tomorrow an “anniversary”. How can disasters have anniversaries? We will remember 26/7 tomorrow. The media will ensure it. And then, as it does for all things Mumbai, everything will die down and things will get back to what we con ourselves to call “normalcy”.

That normalcy is something I don’t buy for a minute. I wish there was something more permanent to remind us of these disasters (including obviously the train blasts and other dark events this city has seen) and their tolls on human life.

I agree with Govind when he says today that “grief as expressed in permanent memorials may be a powerful emotion”. Towards this I also thank (and agree with) Dilip on his “Never Forget” initiative.

And so, before we forget, here’s that BMC number again. 546 dead, in Mumbai, due to 26/7.